Saturday, April 1st, 2017, the Tour and Activity Plan process was discontinued following a cross-functional team’s evaluation of the BSA’s Tour and Activity Plan. While the process is discontinued the program of the BSA hasn’t changed; no requirements were changed, just a process was terminated.  

As part of the announcement, BSA released a Tour and Activity Plan Terminated FAQ that provides answers to the questions most anticipated by people using the tool regarding the rationale and process for the termination. In that FAQ they stated:

“The Scouting program, as contained in our handbooks and literature, inherently integrates safety considerations. However, no policy or procedure will replace the review and vigilance of trusted adults and leaders at the point of program execution.”

The elimination of the plan itself cuts back on paperwork and processes for unit leaders and committees. While reducing complexity, it in no way way reduces our commitment to safety. They said we expect an, “increase consistency with the Commitment to Safety, the Guide to Safe Scouting, Risk Assessment Strategy, as well as Camp Standards planning tools.” However this changes ” the conversation, engaging everyone in risk-based planning” rather that just going through the process.

The BSA has also, “adopted a flexible risk assessment strategy for your use.  This is summarized in the Guide to Safe Scouting, and detailed in the Enterprise Risk Management Guidebook.”

Without the process or Tour and Activity Plan document, Scouters will need to be more diligent in conducting, “the Scouting program consistent with BSA rules, regulations, and policies.” That means knowing what those regulations are—they are summarized in the Guide to Safe Scouting and the Enterprise Risk Management Guidebook mentioned above. 

For many, the crutch of the plan seems hard to abandon, but having a plan is still part of “Be Prepared;” it is integral in our handbooks and  program literature. In that literature, you will find safety features just as they have always been. The whole idea is to use planning tools like Safety Checklists, The Sweet 16 of BSA Safety, and Flying Plan as outlines for safety discussions and conversations about risks.

However, the program hasn’t changed. For example, permission from parents is still needed to take youth on a trip, and program requirements for annual health and medical records for all participants remain consistent. The Cub Scouts camping program is still limited to council approved locations, and so on.

Insurance Questions

Based on initial feedback, many questions have arisen on insurance, but BSA said: “The elimination of the tour and activity plan was not driven by insurance, or the many myths” and misconceptions including things like having to file a Tour and Activity Plan or be in a field uniform to have insurance. In addition, they said:

“…volunteers are provided primary general liability insurance coverage for official scouting activities* except when using an automobile or watercraft. A volunteer’s (whether registered or not) automobile liability insurance is primary with the local council automobile policy providing excess automobile coverage. Non-registered volunteers are provided excess general liability and automobile liability insurance coverage for official scouting activities. There is not a requirement to fill out a form for coverage.”

*An official Scouting activity is defined in the insurance policy as consistent with the values, Charter and Bylaws, Rules and Regulations, the operations manuals, and applicable literature of the Boy Scouts of America.

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Darryl Alder
Darryl is a full time professional Scouter for Utah National Parks Council, Boy Scouts of America, serving as Director of Strategic Initiatives. But his pride in Scouting is his service as an Associate Advisor, Varsity Scout Coach, Scoutmaster, Cubmaster, Chartered Organization Representative and Commissioner.

24 comments

  1. Bruce Pyper says:

    This is a welcome relief for one who has complained for years about the paperwork burden that tour permits have been. I recognize the need this change creates, for leaders to be well trained, to follow the guidelines we already have, and to accept the responsibility, that really has been ours all along, to operate within the safety guidelines. It is kind of like having to grow up and feel the burden of our own decisions, with out mom and dad telling us if it is ok or not. I hope it causes us to be more careful than we have been. There have been too many tragic events in the past that a deeper feeling of responsibility as leaders, may help us to prevent going forward.
    We can do this. We have been provided with the tools. The tour planning process has given us practice so we know what a good place looks like.
    Many times , I have heard comments of frustration from leaders and boys, over certain activities that couldn’t be done. When looking closer, the risks involved in them are very significant. Staying with in the guidelines keeps everyone’s risk lower, and has provided a chance to teach restraint by our example, and good judgment to boys.
    We already have the responsibility, I hope this change will help us feel it more keenly, and let the boys, we work with, see that we are the ones deciding to stand up and keep activity plans within the established limits of safety and risk.
    I think this will be one more vehicle for teaching boys, that we willing to follow the scouting values we are working to build in them.

  2. Kirk says:

    This is called intent based leadership. I know many are used to micromanagement but it is not a good system. Yes there will be leaders that will mess it up, but even under the old system there were plenty. The rules have not changed, safety is still paramount. The top level leaders have just said, we expected and trust you will make it happen without me digging into your lives. You know what right looms like. Take care of the boys and even better, teach the boys to take care of themselves. That is what scouting is all about is it not?

  3. Wendall Dowwneard says:

    With 60 some odd years of scouting and having been in the district training section, it was amazing how many scouters were totally unaware of the requirements of the safe scouting pub, but also of trip permits,etc. It seems as though anything which requires additional time such as reading or studying publications “don’t get er done”. I’m sure that those with first class units are not among the culprits.

  4. john R says:

    Wow this is sad but I expect nothing i have seen many crazy things with LDS scouting. I thank god i am no longer with them. I been on priesthood camp and use BSA insurance. Then they Break out shotguns rifles 308s 45 357 and even ar15s and go as far as letting 11 year olds use them. Yes that was time to leave LDS scouting. The thing is to know report to high ups and be told my council needs LDS money this is sad to watch Souting wash away i have been a fully trained leader for over 20 years sad sad sad days ahead .

  5. Kram says:

    I don’t see what the big deal is? I think this is great! Less red tape. Safety has always been 100% up to the leaders. For those that have been relying on a piece of paper or an electronic one for safety have been missing the boat. Wake up people! It’s called, “The Guide for Safe Scouting”. Try reading it and following the guidelines in it. I agree with darryl. Use the tools for planning that are in the back. They have always been there. Wake up and get trained! My rule has always been, “When in doubt, look it up in the GFSC and if it’s not in there ask your DE.” It’s not rocket science. It’s called common sense which there is a huge lack of now a days

  6. Lee Ferrin says:

    What will this mean for ensuring that our leaders are properly trained for activities? Such as NRA RSO certifications for using firearms, or WFA training for backcountry activities? How can we ensure that this continues to happen if they are not being pressured to submit plans and proof of training to us? This seems to be a bigger liability in the LDS community than perhaps the traditional scouting community. Do we have alternative tools that we can provide the stakes that wish to have their wards submitting travel plans to them that have previously used the tour plans? While eliminating paperwork is great, it seems that the paperwork has been removed without much in place to replace the service it previously provided.

    1. Keith says:

      There are other materials out there that the LDS Church has come out with that can help if the stake and ward leaders want to know what is going on. I feel the heads of the organizations should know exactly what is allowed, through the Guide for Safe Scouting, and stop pretending there is a difference between the Scouting and Church activities. In my previous stake, we had many wards not following the guidelines so the stake presidency implemented the Activity Plan worksheet that is found on lds.org. https://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/english/pdf/callings/young-men/activity-plan.pdf . All activities which included leaving stake boundaries, it was a little excessive, had to have the youth feel out the Activity Plan for approval. If not approved then the activity could not take place. Our stake presidency required all the information be given about the event. If rules were not followed, like the NRA and RSO certifications then the activity did not happen or a request would come back for more information.
      The tools are there. It comes down to whether or not the head of the unit wants to learn and follow the rules already in place. The unit heads should know what is going on in their unit and only allow those activities that are in accordance with the BSA policies take place. But that would require them to be trained and that is another discussion in and of itself.

    2. Darryl Alder
      Darryl Alder ( User Karma: 8 ) says:

      Lee you asked

      “What will this mean for ensuring that our leaders are properly trained for activities? Such as NRA RSO certifications for using firearms, or WFA training for backcountry activities?”

      The answer was in the blog post: “Be Pre­pared;” it is inte­gral in our hand­books and pro­gram lit­er­a­ture. In that lit­er­a­ture, you will find safe­ty fea­tures just as they have always been. The whole idea is to use plan­ning tools like Safe­ty Check­lists, The Sweet 16 of BSA Safe­ty, and Fly­ing Plan as out­li­nes for safe­ty dis­cus­sions and con­ver­sa­tions about risks.” A unit leader that does not abide by those requirements my find themselves outside of Scouting.

      How can we ensure that this continues to happen if they are not being pressured to submit plans and proof of training to us?

      For the last three years no one has had to give us any proof. This belongs to the unit key three. If they are unsure of an activity, they can advance their concerns to your district Health and Safety officer, if s/he is concerned and advances it to the Council Enterprise Risk Management Committee we will ask if the activity is in our literature and if they have used the checklists in the Guide to Safe Scout­ing and the Enter­prise Risk Man­age­ment Guide­book. If our team has concerns we can call National who will ask the same questions. Simply stated, Scout safety is on the shoulders of the unit Key 3.

      This seems to be a bigger liability in the LDS community than perhaps the traditional scouting community. Do we have alternative tools that we can provide the stakes that wish to have their wards submitting travel plans to them that have previously used the tour plans?

      The tools for planning are in the back of the Guide to Safe Scout­ing, they include plan­ning tools like Safe­ty Check­lists, The Sweet 16 of BSA Safe­ty, and Fly­ing Plan, but have been there for planning for a long time. The old Tour and Activity Plan was an excuse to not use the full planning tools in our literature. Your District training committee will need to teach safety and activity planning at Roundtable and in other settings to get the word out.

      While eliminating paperwork is great, it seems that the paperwork has been removed without much in place to replace the service it previously provided.

      The online steps were a burden according to s cross-functional team that completed an evaluation of the BSA’s Tour and Activity Plan, resulting in a recommendation to terminate the plan effective April 1, 2017 (see Tour and Activity Plan Terminated FAQ). This lets us all focus on knowing what is contained in our handbook and other literature, much of which was being overlooked in the past.

  7. Jungleboy says:

    I am sad to see BSA abandoning so many of its once good practices. These plans are essential to insure that each activity and youth are protected to their best ability. As the late Dr. Covey stated in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Seminars and book, “a plan that is not written is only a “dream””…in other words, without Activity and Trip Plans, BSA is only hoping that security will be provided for each Activity and Trek. Even the best of outdoorsman file a Trip Plan before venturing into the out of doors! This is another foolish move by BSA, and not sure why they continue to lower their standards.

  8. Ken Best says:

    I have checked with several Scouters, this is the real deal. Let’s do all we can to get the message out. Let’s also remind everyone about the Safety commitment we all have to one another. Safe Scouting everyone!

  9. Kimberly says:

    This is not a Joke. You can see the following on my.scouting.org and look under Tour Permits.
    Home > Scouting Safely > Tour and Activity Plan Terminated FAQ
    Tour and Activity Plan Terminated FAQ

    A cross-functional team has completed an evaluation of the BSA’s Tour and Activity Plan, resulting in a recommendation to terminate the plan effective April 1, 2017.
    The following FAQ provides answers to the questions we anticipate most people using the tool might have regarding the rationale and process for the termination.
    We recommend that you sign up for the weekly ScoutingWire newsletters to ensure that you receive updates directly in your inbox.
    Q. Why are you terminating the plan? What does this mean for me, my unit, council and the Scouting family?
    A. The Scouting program, as contained in our handbooks and literature, inherently integrates safety considerations. However, no policy or procedure will replace the review and vigilance of trusted adults and leaders at the point of program execution. We expect that the elimination of the BSA Tour and Activity Plan will:
    Reduce complexity, cutting back on processes and paperwork for unit leaders.
    Increase consistency with the Commitment to Safety, the Guide to Safe Scouting, Risk Assessment Strategy, as well as Camp Standards planning tools.
    Change the conversation, engaging everyone in risk-based planning vs. process.
    Eliminate processing, freeing staff to focus on membership and removing administrative burden.
    In addition to the above reasons, the BSA has adopted a flexible risk assessment strategy for your use. This is summarized in the Guide to Safe Scouting, and detailed in the Enterprise Risk Management Guidebook .
    Q. What is the new process?
    A. There is no required process, Scouters are reminded to conduct the Scouting program consistent with BSA rules, regulations, and policies. Flexible risk assessment tools are summarized in the Guide to Safe Scouting, and detailed in the Enterprise Risk Management Guidebook .
    Q. Will there be a replacement for the Tour and Activity Plan?
    A. No.
    Q. Will the entire activity plan idea go away?
    A. No, having a plan is part of “Be Prepared”. Planning is integral into the program literature.
    Q. What will this mean for considering safety on these outings?
    A. The Scouting program, as contained in our handbooks and literature, integrates many safety features. However, no policy or procedure will replace the review and vigilance of trusted adults and leaders at the point of program execution. Source: Commitment to Safety
    Q. Will units have to file any trip forms of any kind? Is there any REQUIRED notification to council for trips?
    A. No, however the BSA Program includes several planning tools (Checklists, The Sweet 16 of BSA Safety, Flying Plan) which are designed not for “filing” but to prompt discussions / conversations about risks.
    Q. Does this include Learning for Life and Exploring?
    A. Yes, the manual process used by Learning for Life and Exploring is also discontinued.
    Q. When does this go in effect?
    A. The termination of the plan is effective on April 1, 2017.
    Q. Is the change simply – Don’t have to fill out a Tour and Activity Plan anymore? All the other steps are the same?
    A. The program hasn’t changed. For example, permission from parents is still needed to take youth on a trip, as would be program requirements for annual health and medical records for all participants. The Cub Scouts camping program is still limited to council approved locations, and so on.
    Q. Has all literature been updated to reflect this change?
    A. Key documents are either updated or in the process of being updated. Other literature will be updated in the normal revision cycle so it may take several years to complete. If you find something to be updated feel free to let us know with the “Got Questions” link to the left.
    Insurance Questions
    Based on initial feedback, many questions have arisen on insurance. The elimination of the tour and activity plan was not driven by insurance, or the many myths / misconceptions including “…you have to file a Tour and Activity Plan, and / or be in a field uniform to have insurance…” surrounding insurance. The following insurance related FAQ’s and sources are offered.
    Q. Will the liability insurance policy still provide coverage if a tour and activity plan is no longer required?
    A. Yes. Registered volunteers are provided primary general liability insurance coverage for official scouting activities except when using an automobile or watercraft. A volunteer’s (whether registered or not) automobile liability insurance is primary with the local council automobile policy providing excess automobile coverage. Non-registered volunteers are provided excess general liability and automobile liability insurance coverage for official scouting activities. Link. There is not a requirement to fill out a form for coverage.
    Q. What is an official scouting activity?
    A. An official scouting activity is defined in the insurance policy as consistent with the values, Charter and Bylaws, Rules and Regulations, the operations manuals, and applicable literature of the Boy Scouts of America. Link.

  10. Bill says:

    The Trip Plan was a wonderful tool for documenting essential information and ensuring that the right people had a copy. Another bad decision by the BSA leadership.

  11. Robert Starling says:

    I don’t know …. I’m still suspicious of anything so radical being published on April Fool’s Day!
    The TAP site doesn’t say anything about abolishing the Tour Plan.

  12. Joe Heman says:

    I am totally disappointed as a scout leader. I religiously used tour plans even when we were in council and less than 500 miles to organize, verify seat belts, training, home bound contacts had a detailed plan, sent them an email when filed – you took all of these tools away from me in one convenient package. Any plans to release the application so that it can be used as part of Scoutbook or Troopmaster to use as an app – I will miss this greatly as it made me do all the mental checklist items and drove me through it automatically including making sure the guide to safe scouting was in the truck before we left. 🙁 🙁

    Joe Heman
    Scoutmaster Troop 17
    Roy, Utah

    1. Darryl Alder
      Darryl Alder ( User Karma: 8 ) says:

      They are not, but safety diligence is. You will need to use the tools for plan­ning that are in the back of the Guide to Safe Scout­ing, they include plan­ning tools like Safe­ty Check­lists, The Sweet 16 of BSA Safe­ty, and Fly­ing Plan.

  13. Dilworth Brinton Jr. District Scribe says:

    No it is not an April Fools Joke but almost something worse.
    My Council sent the information to my district 10 days before the release date. Council wanted the District to take charge of distribution to EVERYONE. We refused! We cannot be liable for someone not getting information on this important and major change. We don’t have everyone’s e-mail addresses (but the council does as they send out blast e-mails, mostly about events that council makes money on, at least several time each week. The District has NO system of getting this information to the registered scouters and apparently neither does the council.
    When I called to get information or guidance I got nothing. Council said that they had nothing to do with this and knew nothing about it, other than the sheet of Frequently Answered Questions sent to them by National.
    When asked about providing safety leadership for camporees, conferences, seminars, and university of Scouting (on page 4) they had no answers.
    On page 6 council is to “‘Develop and manage a cadre of instructors and trainers …. the council (will help) develop and implement these courses, and support youth and leader awareness of safety concerns and risk avoidance”, they had NO answers, NO instructions and NO information. I had to show them where this instruction to them was contained in the handbook!
    The Enterprise Risk Management handbook has almost NOTHING that helps the unit level activity to do anything of the actions that they are supposed to do. The handbook is for council and district.
    Council suggested that I e-mail my questions and concerns to National for answers. They either would not or could not even answer basic questions, other than to refer me (and others) to the two page announcement sent out my national.
    Absolutely terrible mess of the release and explanation by national and as far as I can see, no planning for the future. What is their risk? less information sent to volunteers, leaving them in a vacuum which will only cause greater liability for national and the program.
    who got paid for this poor program presentation????

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